Before winding up the drive and handing over the keys of the third Infiniti Q50 variant I happened to be driving, I looked at the fuel efficiency marker. 9 km per litre. For a 3.5 L engine driving a car from 0 to 100 kmph in well under six seconds, those were hugely impressive figures. But then, that’s because this Q50 rode as an electric vehicle for almost a hundred kilometres out of the 420 km long test – almost a quarter of the distance.
Anyway, that might never be the reason someone in our land of gazelles and guzzlers would choose the 3.5 L Hybrid Q50 with its 50 kW electric motor. The figures that would impress buyers would belong to the ‘non-conservative side’ – the number of horses this Q50 Hybrid holds on rein is an astounding 417. In a market equally hesitant to buy or stock Hybrids, the Q50 S seems to have the power to change that – sooner than later.
UPSIDE: Powerful and fuel efficient, Catchy design and colours, Ample driver support, Well priced Hybrid
FLIPSIDE: Drive by wire needs getting used to, feels like one too many controls, hybrid model sparsely available
Specs: 3.5 L petrol engine + 50 kW electric motor – 350 hp and 536 Nm of torque, 7-speed AT, 0-100 in 5.1 sec (company stats)
The Price: AED 139,000 onwards for the Q50 2.0 T. Q50S Hybrid approx. AED 210,000
The by now famous, or infamous as defined by the context, drive-by-wire steering is now less of an intriguing phenomenon as I take the car on a long test many months after I cracked my whip on track during the launch. Now, the brain has learnt to seriously evaluate the feeling of having no ‘real thing’ or physical connection between the steering and the four wheels. The fact is that there is little feeling. But then, the sweeping power and the quickness of response will easily make up for any lack of feeling elsewhere; though it might take a while getting used to turning-as-you -see, and correcting your enthusiasm midway.
But a few over-steers later, you eventually will.
The Q50 is a point of balance between silence and a scream. The V6 shoots up the tacho with little hesitation just like the G sedan used to – way above 6000 and 6500 rotations – burbling excitedly. Yet, it all begins with the utter silence of an EV, so much so that I was deceived more than once into checking if the Q50 had actually come on.
The Q50 with its wavy Infiniti design lines, aggressive cross-mesh grille, narrow, sharp eyes and lip spoilers is certainly a looker. The design makes the Q50 look longer, yet there is a compact and manageable feel to the sedan. Though softer than the G 37, the Q50 rides on sporty credentials – right from the firmness of the ride to the new long-nosed Maser-style presence.
The cabin and controls
The Q50 is loaded with an arsenal that is all about one-upmanship in innovation. Some of it is downright generous and if you are the kind that gives such things importance, you won’t turn to another premium car but the Infiniti. Things like sensing an approaching car when you slip into a side lane… and braking! Weird sensory advantages like reading the speed of the car ahead of the car in front of you, anticipating an intervention. All this, besides the ‘usuals’ like blind spot monitoring, advance cruise control, forward collision warning and sensor-induced braking. Another impressive feature is how the car beeps you as you stray – rather attempt to stray, for it simply doesn’t let you slide over inadvertently.
The dual screen is an oddity but the plethora of information and feedback on these screens stop the question halfway. At some point you accept that having the map up there, undisturbed, is a good idea while the playback artist or the performance meter or the never-ending menu flash on the lower screen. What you will never get used to is how rapidly and rampantly do fingerprints crawl all over the stylish touch-screen – which by the way is better governed using the turn-knob and the buttons.
The G sedan was a firm ride, and the Q50 bears that legacy after all. However, the leather seats with the AC vents on either side are rather comfortable and legroom is more comfortable than you expect in an entry-level premium sedan. And the boot space? Well, if you are willing to look where you are going and toy with the steering rather than the other way, then all the power and the reassuring gadgetry will bully you into justifying the sparse boot space – like, how many times do you really need more than a picnic pack and a square trolley in the rear?
The essential Infiniti Q50 Hybrid
Agreed. Much of the gadgetry will be hardly used or half the feedback won’t ever be glanced at. The eco mode might almost never be visited, for fear of turning the hint of a hybrid limp into a permanent feature of the drive. Yet with all its little faults that could disappoint the admirers of the G sedan, the Q50 shows up with a definite refinement and an engaging power play that make it a worthy second thought in the premium segment, and fairly priced among the few Hybrids around. Infiniti’s sporty sedan isn’t perhaps as exhilarating a drive as a Bimmer or a Merc. But then, neither is it competing with them in terms of value and value-adds – if only because they simply can’t beat the Q50 at that.
Drive Courtesy: Infiniti Middle East
Pictures: Sudeep Koshy